September 23, 2015

Memorable Days: The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps

Just when my bookstack seems completely insupportable – as it threatens to collapse entirely in a thunderous clatter causing further damage to the joists and unexpected medical bills – Michael Dirda suggests a volume of letters by two writers I have not (yet) read. Naturally, I order this volume immediately, forcing the Kipling back onto the queue. This means that, at the moment, I am reading (and enjoying) give books at once. Is this any way to live, I ask you?

I’m a sucker for reading volumes of letters. So is Dirda: he’s the only fellow I know who reliably writes about letters, and he led me to the Mitford-Waugh correspondence which is absolutely first class.

Salter and Phelps were two talented writers who happened to meet, in passing almost, in New York. They hit it off. Phelps lived mostly in New York, Salter in Aspen before it was quite Aspen. These are good, companionable letters, not filled with advice like Shaw’s or with gossip like Mitford’s, but they’re fun to read.